Clement “Clem” M. Lange, co-founder and chairman of Best Chairs, Inc./Best Home Furnishings was one of four industry leaders inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame on Oct. 20 during the High Point Market. The three others joining the current 116 members of the Hall of Fame are Jake Jabs, president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse; Paul Maitland-Smith, founder of Maitland-Smith Ltd. and Theodore Alexander; and Jim McIngvale, founder and owner of Gallery Furniture.
This incredible honor was a memorable day for the entire Best Home Furnishings family. The induction process began at the Furniture Plaza building in downtown High Point with a ceremony for the new inductees to receive their coveted Hall of Fame pins. As tradition goes, each new Hall of Famer gets pinned by an existing member. Clem received his pin from former Chairman/CEO of Leggett & Platt, Felix Wright. Following that, his Wall of Fame plaque was unveiled and his Walk of Fame brick was dedicated in front of many of the top names in home furnishings.
The festivities were capped off by the industry’s most prestigious event of the year – the official induction ceremony at the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons. “Miracle on the Hudson” captain, Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger was the keynote speaker and gave an inspiring address on leadership to attendees. TV personalities Bobby Berk and Kelli Ellis served as hosts along with entertainment from saxophonist, singer and songwriter Grace Kelly. Clem’s tribute at the ceremony included an introduction by RC Willey’s president and fellow Hall of Famer, Jeff Child, as well as a poignant video highlighting Clem’s incredible contribution to the world of home furnishings. Clem’s granddaughter and lead product designer for Best, Janae Lange-Wendholt, delivered a touching acceptance speech on his behalf.
“This year’s inductees represent the best of the best in our industry as a result of the work done by a dedicated Selection Committee, which is committed to thoughtfully and thoroughly researching candidates from across the industry,” says David Gebhart, president of the Foundation board of directors. “The inductees’ contributions are impressive and each has put their own mark on the industry and is worthy of receiving the industry’s most prestigious honor.”
A seven-member selection committee, composed of Hall of Fame Foundation board members and representatives from diverse segments of the industry, chooses inductees based on their contributions to the growth and development of the home furnishings industry in America. The committee uses a points-based evaluation system grounded on four foundations: enduring excellence, superior accomplishments, innovation and creativity, and philanthropic generosity. Ken Fulp, CPA, with the Foundation’s accounting firm Sharrard McGee & Co., verified the results.
“Induction into the Hall of Fame is the home furnishings industry’s highest honor,” Gebhart says. “Our new honorees represent innovative approaches to retail and domestic manufacturing as well as high-end design and global sourcing,” he says.
The induction process began with a noon ceremony to present the coveted Hall of Fame pin to inductees. Next, their plaques on the Wall of Fame were uncovered and dedicated bronze bricks that are permanently placed in the ‘Walk of Fame’ along the sidewalk on Main Street in front of the Furniture Plaza building in High Point, NC.
The Induction Celebration, the industry’s most prestigious event, was held at the Sheraton Greensboro Four Seasons.
Four New Members Named to the Hall of Fame
Clement “Clem” M. Lange, chairman of Best Chairs, Inc./Best Home Furnishings, built the domestic upholstery manufacturing company on the principal to create the best quality product at the most affordable price and to do it more efficiently than the competition. With more than 2,400 styles and options in more than 800 fabrics and leathers, orders are produced in five working days. A technology leader, Mr. Lange computerized manufacturing operations in the 1970s. In the 1990s, a new high-tech computer system and the launch of Best Chair Transit further shorten deliveries of its swivel rockers and gliders; stationary and motion sofas, loveseats and chairs; upholstered benches and occasional tables.
Jake Jabs, CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, is an entrepreneur who pioneered the big box home furnishings store. A top 20 retailer and one of the largest privately held companies in Colorado, he believes in competitive pricing and created his own coast-to-coast trucking fleet. A former Air Force officer, he focuses on hiring veterans, offers widespread incentive pay to employees, and spends a full day with each new hire to instill his passion for honesty, providing value and fully informing each customer with detailed product information. He has a penchant for playing guitar for store customers and appearing with a white tiger in television commercials.
Paul Maitland-Smith, founder of Maitland-Smith Ltd. and Theodore Alexander, is a master of creating high-end designs for case goods, upholstery and decorative accents. A trailblazer in establishing plants in the Philippines, Hong Kong, India and Vietnam, Mr. Maitland-Smith is a rare combination of designer, manufacturer and entrepreneur who has worked side by side with artisans to produce fine carvings, detailed hand painting, metalwork and sophisticated finishes. As a prolific designer, he would routinely introduce hundreds of products at a market in an eclectic array of antique reproductions and original modern classical designs on a scale that was unmatched in the upper end.
Jim McIngvale, founder of Houston-area retailer Gallery Furniture, is known for delighting customers with a fun-filled shopping experience that includes a monkey habitat, a tropical bird aviary and a 30,000-gallon aquarium. “Mattress Mack” introduced same-day deliveries to his customers, building his business based on quality home furnishings, great value and exceptional customer service. As a result, he has a reputation for selling more furniture per square foot at his three stores than other independent retailers. Mr. McIngvale views challenges as opportunities and has created loyal customers through his ongoing support of the community, which in turn has globally raised the profile of the entire industry.
The American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc., is an industry-wide organization founded to preserve its history, to celebrate exceptional individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the U.S. home furnishings industry, and to inspire a new class of innovation and leadership. Membership includes eligibility to nominate candidates for consideration by the Selection Committee, and the opportunity to help preserve the history and heritage of the industry. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, 92 percent of all funds support our history and leadership programming. The organization currently is based in High Point, North Carolina, at 202 Neal Place, Suite 101, and can be reached at 336.882.5900. Watch for ongoing developments and details about the grand opening of a new permanent home, which is targeted for April 2021.